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National commitment to ending female genital mutilation


PCC Sue Mountstevens at the national conference 'Sharing good practice to end FGM'

Ending female genital mutilation (FGM) was the focus of a national conference ‘Sharing Good Practice to End FGM’ attended by professionals from all over the country and held in Bristol on Thursday, October 2.

Representatives from health, social care, police, and local community groups came together for the one day conference to share their experiences and expertise in relation to tackling female genital mutilation.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and force lead for FGM Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Leanne Pook were invited to address attendees on the day.

The conference was chaired by Nimco Ali, founding member of Daughters of Eve, and Fahma Mohammed, of Integrate Bristol, also spoke at the event. Fahma made headlines when she was invited to see then education minister Michael Gove about highlighting the risk of FGM in schools during the summer.

During her afternoon address, PCC Sue Mountstevens said: "As PCC, I have set tackling domestic and sexual abuse as a priority in Avon and Somerset and an important part of that is tackling FGM.

"One thing that is clear is that none of us can fight FGM on our own, without health, without education, without the community and without the police we cannot tackle this terrible crime, but working together we can put an end to FGM."

Empowering presentations throughout the day included:

  • Opening address – Nimco Ali and Bristol Mayor George Ferguson
  • Starting the Journey to End FGM in Bristol – Jackie Mathers, Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group
  • The Bristol Model of FGM work and Public Health’s role – Kate Cooke and Mohammed Elsharif, Bristol City Council
  • Strategy and provision – Head Teacher Claire Banks, St Werburghs Primary School
  • The story so far: eradicating FGM in Bristol – DCI Leanne Pook and DI Katie Boxer, Avon and Somerset Police
  • FGM and Maternity Services – Linda Hicken and Sara-Jane Sheldon, North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospital’s Bristol
  • Bristol Community Rose Clinic – Katrina Darke, Inner city GP
  • The Women’s Journey – Layla Ismail, Bristol FGM Community Project
  • A Commitment to FGM – Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens
  • Department of Health FGM Prevention Program – Astrid Fairclough, Department of Health
  • FGM in Bristol: An exploration of available data – Nicola Bowtell, Public Health England
  • The Journey to Empowerment – Nike Fleming, Fatin Guled and Georgia Baker-Wright, Forward
  • Integrate Bristol: Lawrence hill to Westminster – Fahma Mohamed and Habiba Said, Integrate
  • Closing address and next steps – Nimco Ali, FGM campaigner

The conference also heard from Nasra, a victim of FGM with an incredible story to tell.

DCI Leanne Pook said: "As a police force, we are committed to protecting victims from this form of abuse and to enforcing the law against people involved in carrying out female genital mutilation.

"We have seen a 400% increase in flagging of potential FGM referrals from 2009 to 2014"

"But we are also actively involved in promoting education around issues of violence against women and children, helping to increase public awareness and improving our relationships with communities where women and girls are at risk of female genital mutilation.

"By working closely with other agencies and charities, to both investigate criminal offences of FGM and to inform and educate, each day we take a step closer to ending FGM."

Alice Jones, PCC Sue Mountstevens’ Violence against Women and Children’s Champion, attended the conference and live tweeted the event.  Visit the Constabulary Storify page for a round-up.

In the afternoon, Public Health England’s Knowledge and Intelligence Team for the South West presented a report on FGM data for Bristol. The report included latest figures for the estimated number of schoolgirls and preschool children potentially at risk of FGM and was funded by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.

Bristol has been credited with being at the forefront of campaigning against FGM, and in June, young people from Integrate Bristol launched the music video #UseYourHead, to campaign for the end of FGM.  Read about the project here.

The national conference also follows this year’s first UK hosted Girl Summit aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end FGM. At the Summit, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to protect girls in the UK and abroad from FGM. To find out more visit www.girlsummitpledge.com

Avon and Somerset Police take reports of female genital mutilation very seriously and will work to protect and support the victim fully. If you feel you are at risk, suffering from the effects of FGM, suspect a child may be at risk or have any information at all relating to suspected acts of FGM please call 101. However, if contacting the police online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete the secure online reporting form.

Posted on Monday 6th October 2014
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